Biotech and Pharma

Martin Shkreli gets call from Secret Service over $5,000 bounty for Hillary Clinton's hair; puts his famous Wu-Tang Clan up for sale

Key Points
  • Martin Shkreli claimed his offer of a reward for Clinton's hair was "satire" after the Secret Service contacted him about it.
  • A bidder has offered Shkreli more than $100,000 for the one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album Shkreli bought for $2 million in 2015.
  • The stunts come a month after Shkreli was convicted of federal fraud charges related to hedge funds he previously ran.
Martin Shkreli gets call from Secret Service over bounty for Hillary Clinton's hair

A little thing like a federal felony conviction won't stop Martin Shkreli from acting like Martin Shkreli.

The "pharma bro" Shkreli within a two-day period this week offered $5,000 bounties for people who plucked some of Hillary Clinton's hair from her head and gave it to him, and also put his one-of-a-kind copy of a Wu-Tang Clan album up for sale after having bought it for $2 million more than two years ago.

Shkreli's Clinton hair prize offer led to an inquiry from the U.S. Secret Service, according to Shkreli himself.

And his eBay auction of Wu-Tang's "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" as of midday Wednesday had attracted a top bid of more than $100,000.

But like with much else about the disgraced pharmaceuticals executive, it was not immediately clear if Shkreli's offers of cash for hair, or a rare album for cash were serious or just the latest in a series of Dada-esque stunts in a frantic effort to remain in the public's gaze.

Shkreli, 34, was convicted in Brooklyn federal court in early August of three counts of securities fraud, but was acquitted of five other criminal counts. Shkreli was accused by prosecutors of defrauding a group of hedge fund investors, and then of ripping off the drug company he founded, Retrophin, to pay back their money.

Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals, exits federal court in Brooklyn, New York, June 29, 2017.
Jeenah Moon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shkreli, a New York City resident, remains free on a $5 million bond pending his yet-to-be-scheduled sentencing on the charges.

Since his conviction, he has continued to use social media to troll various people, a long-standing habit.

On Monday night, he posted a message on Facebook about one of his favorite targets, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Clinton, offering a reward for her locks.

CNBC asked the Secret Service on Tuesday whether it was aware of Shkreli's hair bounty for Clinton, who is entitled to lifetime protection from the Secret Service because she is the spouse of former President Bill Clinton.

Joseph Casey, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said, "As a matter of practice the Secret Service does not comment on the means and methods of protective operations or investigations."

But Shkreli later in the day wrote on Facebook that the Secret Service had reached out to him about the initial post.

He also later amended his initial post to include a disclaimer: "(this is satire, meant for humor and not an endorsement of violence against a truly wonderful public servant)."

Also Tuesday, Shkreli put up for sale his infamous Wu-Tang Clan album.

In the eBay listing, Shkreli wrote:

This is the one and only Wu-Tang album.
I decided to purchase this album as a gift to the Wu-Tang Clan for their tremendous musical output. Instead I received scorn from at least one of their (least-intelligent) members, and the world at large failed to see my purpose of putting a serious value behind music. I will be curious to see if the world values music nearly as much as I have. I have donated to many rock bands and rappers over the years to ensure they can continue to produce their art when few others would.
At any time I may cancel this sale and I may even break this album in frustration. I will donate half of the sale proceeds to medical research. I am not selling to raise cash—my companies and I have record amounts of cash on hand. I hope someone with a bigger heart for music can be found for this one-of-a-kind piece and makes it available for the world to hear.
Martin Shkreli

The New York Post's famed gossip column "Page Six," which broke the news about the auction, reported that Shkreli, when reached by phone Tuesday night, "refused to say where he would donate the money or what he would do with the remaining cash."

"Instead he unleashed a string of expletives and then requested to engage in a lewd act with a reporter," Page Six reported.

In June, shortly before his trial began, Shkreli's high-powered criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman told a federal judge that his client, who claimed to be worth $70 million in 2015, "doesn't have any cash."

Brafman during the same court hearing said that Shkreli's stock in another drug company he had founded, Turing Pharmaceuticals, is worth between $30 million and $50 million.

But the lawyer said Shkreli could not sell off part of that stake to pay his mounting legal bills because Turing is privately held, and any sale of Shkreli's share of the company is subject to agreement by other stakeholders.

Brafman said at the time that the Wu-Tang Clan album is "probably worthless."

And the lawyer said that the "preposterous promises" that Shkreli had recently made to pay $40,000 for a Princeton student who could produce a mathematical proof, and a $100,000 reward for the identity of a murderer of a Democratic National Committee staff, were efforts to win attention from the public.

On Wednesday, when contacted by CNBC, Brafman said he had no comment on the sale of the Wu-Tang Clan album.

Brafman said the Secret Service conducted a "routine inquiry" into Shkreli's Facebook post.

It "was not a serious matter," the lawyer said.

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